Yesterday was the first day for our company’s intern – a young lad (he was born two years after I graduated from college…strange to think I could be his mom) who really impressed me in the interview process and came to us highly recommended. As I handed him the stack of HR paperwork to complete, I noticed he had a very interesting tattoo on the inside of his left forearm (he let me take a photo of it later):
I didn’t say anything at the time, as we were about to interview a designer candidate, but on the walk back from lunch, I asked him for the significance of the tattoo. He told me that he had wanted a tattoo that had some meaning for how he wanted to live his life, and he had originally thought of a “play” button, as he was enamored of his iPod (btw, he used to work at an Apple retail store, so he far surpasses all of us in the office in Apple fanboy-ness). Then he thought “play” was too simple, and he thought perhaps, the “loop” symbol but then he realized the “shuffle” symbol was the best representation…when he’s listening to music on the iPod and he’s tired of the same old song, he presses the “shuffle” button to bring up something new and unexpected. He wanted a reminder that life would similarly present unexpected surprises…some pleasant, some not-so-much…but eventually, the song will end and a new one will start. And if you didn’t like how your life was going, you had the power to hit “shuffle” and see what happens next. I was impressed with his thoughtfulness and how he incorporated an element of something he cared about (beautiful Apple iconography!) with his attitude towards life. We had a great discussion about how for many cultures, tattoos were the first “social networking badges” that displayed for others what was important for you.
I once heard someone say that he got his tattoos to commemorate the meaningful events in his life so that years into the future, he could look back at those touchpoints and remember the person he was at those times and how he had grown. I recently started following an enjoyable blog on Tumblr called Pen And Ink that tells the stories of why people got their tattoos. I used to frown upon lots of tattoos on a person, but after reading some of the stories, I have become fascinated with tattoos as a means of self-expression, not to mention how artistically beautiful some of them are (but not this one).
I came extremely close to getting a “wings of gold” tattoo when I was in the navy, and even went to a tattoo parlor in Australia while on liberty but the shop was closed when I arrived. That was 17 years ago, and since then I’ve often thought about getting a tattoo but I just haven’t been inspired enough to do so. While the “butterly-emerging-from-a-chrysalis” would be apropos, it just seems too clichéd to me. Chinese symbols? Too five years ago. Maybe something will strike my fancy but until then, I’ll have to settle for tweeting my inspirational quotes and lyrics rather than wearing them.